Crime

Man accused of strangling and burning Kent grandmother is ordered held without bail

Man in court for allegedly killing a 64-year-old woman, then burning her body

Lance Rougeau, 25, appears Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court. He's suspected of killing 64-year-old Linda Sweezer in her Kent home. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley found probable cause to hold him without bail until his arraignment Monday.
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Lance Rougeau, 25, appears Thursday in Pierce County Superior Court. He's suspected of killing 64-year-old Linda Sweezer in her Kent home. Court Commissioner Meagan Foley found probable cause to hold him without bail until his arraignment Monday.

There’s no indication Lance Gene Francoise Rougeau knew the woman he’s accused of strangling and later setting ablaze, while her 4-month-old granddaughter was abandoned at their Kent home.

Two days after 64-year-old Linda Sweezer’s body was found along a Pierce County road, investigators said they’d found no relationship between her and her suspected killer.

“There is no link we have found at this point,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Thursday via email.

Superior Court Commissioner Meagan Foley found probable cause Thursday to hold 25-year-old Rougeau without bail for several days, while prosecutors make a charging decision.

Investigators said someone on a walk found Sweezer’s body early Tuesday near 24th Street Court East and 169th Avenue. The Medical Examiner’s Office later determined Sweezer died from strangulation.

When investigators went to her home in the 23200 block of 105th Avenue Southeast, they found an abandoned 4-month-old girl — a granddaughter for whom Sweezer had been caring, and working to get custody.

The baby was treated for dehydration, and Child Protective Services found her a temporary home.

Meanwhile, investigators found evidence at Sweezer’s home to suggest that’s where she was killed. They believe her body was brought to Pierce County, set on fire and left where it later was found.

The Kent Black Action Commission posted on its Facebook page that Sweezer had been a “dedicated and loyal commissioner” for the nonprofit and will be missed.

Sweezer had been with the group since 2012, not long after its inception, and had helped establish many of its annual events, Gwen Allen-Carston, executive director of the organization, told The News Tribune.

“She was like a sister to us,” Allen-Carston said. “Very unexpected. Very horrifying. We are all concerned about the health of the baby, and want to know whatever we can do to help make things better for the child.”

Plans for a vigil are in the works, she said.

Rougeau was taken into custody Wednesday in Kent, and so far is the only person arrested in connection to Sweezer’s death. Investigators said video from where her body was left shows two suspect vehicles.

Rougeau is expected to be arraigned Monday.

Court records show he has prior convictions that include residential burglary, first-degree robbery, custodial assault, and unlawful gun possession.

Rougeau was convicted of burglarizing a Burien home in 2014. King County Deputy Prosecutor Christian Brown wrote as part of that case: “While only 22 years old this defendant has already established a history of violent and serious convictions ... .”

Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268, @amkrell

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